Free Dental Care Clinics

July 17th, 2015 No Comments   Posted in Personal Finance

What a great resource and a great way to give back! Dentists across the nation will be holding “free dental care” days in conjunction with Dentistry from the Heart. These clinics are for people who do not have dental insurance. Cleanings, filings, X-rays… they are all free!

According to their website, “Dentistry From The Heart is a registered non-profit organization dedicated to providing free dental care to those who need it.

Every year, individual dentists and practices across the country donate their time and resources to host their own DFTH events. In support, the national organization serves to recruit, unify, and promote on a national level.”

You can find a full list of participating dentists at www.dentistryfromtheheart.org.

6 Debt Repayment Options

July 15th, 2015 No Comments   Posted in Debt

If you want to pay off your debt, you have to make some tough choices. The first of them is which debt repayment option will you choose. There are pros and cons of each option and the one that’s best for you depends on your debt, your income, your monthly expenses, the importance of your credit rating, and how much of the debt you want to pay off. Here are six debt repayment options to consider.

1.  Pay On Your Own

Paying on your own involves assessing your debt, putting together a plan to pay off your debt, and making the plan work. You may have to call your creditors and lenders to work out a payment schedule or to ask for a lower interest rate. You’re responsible for sending monthly payments to all your creditors. How and when you pay off your debt depends on you. Your debt repayment plan will include both your secured and unsecured debt.

2.  Consumer Credit Counseling

A credit counseling agency will typically work within your budget to come up with an affordable monthly payment for all your unsecured debt. The credit counseling agency will put you on a debt management plan (DMP) that usually includes a lower minimum payment for each of your creditors and a lower interest rate. Credit counseling usually takes about three to five years. You aren’t allowed to use your credit cards while you’re on a DMP. Though your credit report will be updated to show that you’re in credit counseling, it won’t hurt your credit score.

3.  Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation involves combining all your debts into a single monthly payment. Some types of debt consolidation programs involve a new debt consolidation loan that’s used to pay off your unsecured debt. This will require you to have a good enough credit score to get a new loan. Other programs operate more like consumer credit counseling by combining your monthly payment.

4.  Debt Settlement

When successful, debt settlement can lower your total debt by up to 40% to 60%. You pay a monthly fee to a debt settlement firm, who negotiates a lump sum payment that’s less than the full amount you owe. When a settlement amount has been reached, the debt settlement firm uses the money you’ve been sending to pay the settlement. Debt settlement requires you to be behind on your payments. There’s no guarantee your creditors and debt collectors will accept the settlement offer. You may or may not receive a refund if the settlement isn’t successful.

5.  Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a way to receive total relief for all or some of your unsecured debts. You’ll have to pass a means test and go through credit counseling to show that you don’t make enough money to pay off your debt on your own. Depending on your state’s law, you may have to give up your assets to pay off some of your debt. This includes your home or car if you have equity. Most of your unsecured debt can be wiped out, or discharged, in bankruptcy. However, child support, tax debts, and student loans can’t be bankrupt.

6.  Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy that allows you to repay your debts within three to five years. Any debt that’s left after your Chapter 13 bankruptcy is complete will be discharged. You might file Chapter 13 bankruptcy when you make too much money to file Chapter 7 or when you have assets that you want to keep. You must also go through credit counseling to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In Chapter 13, you have to pay child support and alimony, certain tax debts, any wages owed to employees, your regular house and car payments, and any back payments you have on your house and car.

How Much Popular Food Franchises Cost

July 13th, 2015 No Comments   Posted in Business

We have compiled a list of the most popular food franchises and the costs involved to open each one.

1.  McDonalds Franchise

You will need a minimum of $300,000 in non-borrowed, personal resources to be considered for a franchise.

Most Owner/Operators enter the System by purchasing an existing restaurant directly from McDonald’s or from a McDonald’s Owner/Operator. A small number of new operators choose to purchase a new facility, but that requires an initial down payment of 40% as opposed to 25% for an existing restaurant. Intensive training addresses all aspects of operating a McDonald’s restaurant.

While McDonald’s does not offer financing, McDonald’s Owner/Operators have access to the company’s established lender relationships with some of the lowest lending rates in the industry.

2.  Dunkin Donuts Franchise

Dunkin Donuts requires you to have a net worth for 5 restaurants at a minimum of $1.5 million and $750,000 in cash reserves. Also, one single candidate must personally meet the financial qualifications. The start up fee is a tame $40,000 to $80,000 in contrast, and yes, if you want more units you have to expand at the rate of 5 at a time.

3.  Taco Bell Franchise

If you have a passion for operations-excellence and team building and you can commit to building at least 3 restaurants over 3 years Taco bell wants you. A stand-alone restaurant runs between $1,200,000 and $1,700,000, but these figures do not include the land or lease costs.

4.  Subway Franchise

The estimated total investment to open a Subway franchise in the United States is between $101,000 and $285,000. This includes the complete investment in setting up a Subway franchise, and also operating expenses for the first three months. After opening, franchisees pay a royalty fee, which is 8% of their overall gross sales.

5.  Pinkberry Franchise

The franchise fee is reportedly $40,000 but has not yet been verified. Start up costs will vary per location. Although Pinkberry won’t discuss sales, the silver lining declares one store could enjoy $250,000 a month on average based on 1500 customers a day. Idealistic? Maybe not in NY or CA. But what about Little Rock? Plan on the usual royalty structure for this newbie, a 5% royalty fee with another 2% for marketing.

6.  Wendy’s Franchise

Wendy’s requires $500,000 in liquid assets with $1,000,000 net worth, which was a bit easier to achieve in last year’s economy. The total investment lies somewhere between $250,000 and $600,000 but if you want to buy a franchise you will have to wait. Wendy’s is not currently accepting applications for Domestic franchises although it appears International franchises and Canadian franchises are still available.

7.  Domino’s Pizza Franchise

Franchisees at Domino’s Pizza fall into one of two categories: internal or external. Internal franchisees have already worked within Domino’s as a General Manager for at least one year. External franchisees have not previously worked with Domino’s as a General Manager, but do bring outside business or other management experience to the table. For the first group the franchise fee is $0 to $25,000 depending of the social segment (woman, minorities, veterans). For External franchisees, the fee is set at $25,000. Domino’s Pizza offers a comprehensive training program covering store operations, marketing, finance, and human resources.

8.  Pizza Hut Franchise

If you have a budget of between $1.3 million to $3 million and a net worth of $1 million with $360,000 in liquid assets, you can be in business within a year. You must commit to building at least 3 restaurants over 3 years.

When Is A Little Debt Too Much?

June 24th, 2015 No Comments   Posted in Debt

How do you know when a little “acceptable” debt becomes a potentially dangerous situation? For some, the crisis is clear, but for many, the clues are subtle.

As a general rule, no more than 20 percent of your disposable income should go toward debt payments (not including your mortgage).

Quiz: Assess your debt situation

Take this quick quiz to assess your current debt situation.

  • Is an increasing percentage of your income going to pay off debts?
  • Is your savings cushion inadequate or nonexistent?
  • Are you near or at the limit of your lines of credit?
  • Can you only make the minimum payments on your revolving charge accounts?
  • Are you extending repayment schedules – paying in 60 or 90 day bills once paid in 30?
  • Are you chronically late in paying your bills? Are you paying bills with money earmarked for something else?
  • Are you borrowing money to pay for items you used to buy with cash? If you lost your job, would you be in immediate financial difficulty?
  • Are you unsure about how much you owe?
  • Are you threatened with repossession of your car or credit cards, or other legal action?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you should give pause for thought. While a single “yes” is not a sign of impending doom, it may be an indication that you need to make a change.

Guide to Investing By Age

June 22nd, 2015 No Comments   Posted in Investment

The Investment Lifecycle: Why We Should All Be Investing By Age

How old you are determines what types of investments you should make, and how much of each asset class you should buy relative to the others. Basically, the advice is to become an incrementally more conservative (and more risk averse) investor as you age.

Investing-By-AgeThis infographic breaks down Malkiel’s investing advice by age:

First authored in 1973, Malkiel’s famous book A Random Walk Down Wall Street lays out a widely recognized formula for successful investing and portfolio diversification. This widely accepted advice from finance expert and Princeton professor Burton Malkiel has withstood the test of time.

Why does investing time horizon matter so much?

The younger you are, the more you can risk in your investing to maximize rewards throughout your lifetime. That said, if you know you’ll need access to your money pretty soon, to pay tuition or buy a car for example, keep it handy and keep it a safe short term investment or savings account. But if you can invest money that you don’t plan to use much of until retirement, a retirement portfolio should reflect a pretty aggressive diversification strategy.

How Much Does It Cost to Sell Your House?

June 20th, 2015 No Comments   Posted in Real Estate

Toronto couple Peter and Nadine couldn’t wait to sell their tiny, two-bedroom house and move into a home big enough to accommodate their growing family. They knew their house would sell fast in Toronto’s hot real estate market, but what they didn’t count on was how much it would cost to make the sale. Nadine, who was shocked by the costs, reckons they paid around $50,000 for real estate agent commissions, legal fees and the money they spent to fix up their home for a quick sale, on top of the purchase price of their new house. That figure also includes the hefty land transfer tax they had to pay for the new home they bought.

How much does it cost to sell your home“All told, the cost of selling took a big bite out of our down payment on a new home,” says Nadine, noting they brought their original budget down.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, you need to budget for the added costs involved in making the sale, especially if you’re using the proceeds to finance the purchase of another home. That means keeping an eye on the following expenses:

Real estate agent commissions: These can run anywhere between 3% and 7% depending on where you live and what you negotiate with your agent. A 4% real estate commission on a house that sells for $350,000 will set you back $14,000. In a hot market, you may be able to avoid this fee by selling your own home. But it’s wise to still consult an appraiser to help determine your home’s worth (starting at around $300) and a real estate lawyer to draw up the paperwork.

Legal fees: Budget for at least $500, sometimes more depending on how complex your deal is.

Home staging: Paul and Nadine painted their house, moved all of their stuff out and even rented art to make their home look great to potential buyers. Total cost for them: $1,000, but that can vary depending on how much fixing up your place needs.

Land or property transfer tax: If you are buying a new home, land transfer tax can easily be your biggest expense. The tax is based on a percentage of the purchase price of the home and it varies from province to province (ranging from .5% to 2% of the total property value).

Moving costs: Depending on where you’re moving and how much stuff you have to shift, you’ll likely need to factor in at least a couple of hundred dollars for moving expenses — unless, of course, you have your own truck and willing friends who will work for pizza and beer.

Simply put: Selling a home can cost a lot of money. And you need to make sure you budget for the costs – otherwise you could get a nasty shock when it comes time to close the deal.